- Honourable Philip Davis, Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas and Chairman of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community;
- the Honourable Keith Rowley, Prime Minister of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago and Lead Head of Government with responsibility for Crime and Security in the CARICOM Quasi-Cabinet; andour host for this Symposium
- Your Excellencies and Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community;
- Other Heads of Delegation;
- Heads of Regional and International Institutions;
- Members of Academia;
- Members of the Diplomatic Corps;
- Key Experts and Facilitators;
It is a distinct pleasure to welcome you all this morning, as we meet to engage in this pivotal Regional Symposium on Crime and Violence as a Public Health Issue.
I extend an especially warm welcome to the Heads of Government who, in spite of their heavy schedules, made the decision to participate in this Symposium. This is a clear indication of the gravity of the crime and violence situation in Member States and the importance that Heads of Government attach to finding strategies to effectively address the situation.
I also welcome all the delegates, Honourable Ministers and Representatives from multiple sectors, including our Regional Institutions, law enforcement, health, education, youth, social development, academia, faith-based and non-governmental organisations.
A warm welcome too to the Heads of Delegations and participants from non-CARICOM countries such as Colombia, Mexico and Martinique.
I am also very pleased to acknowledge the presence of representatives from several of our many International Development Partners who have accepted the invitation to participate and collaborate with us on this issue, which is critical to the growth and sustainable development of our Community.
Given the cross-section of participants, I anticipate rich and robust interactions and exchange of views, resulting in specific, achievable, remedial and mitigating outcomes.
I express my sincere gratitude to the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Dr. the Honourable Keith Rowley and his Government for the excellent arrangements for this Symposium. I am also grateful to the inter-ministerial team that has been in charge of preparations for the discussions over the next two days. This Symposium began as a national undertaking, but it is clear that the rising crime and violence is affecting all our Member States, so the move to expand the frame to give it a regional scope is much appreciated.
Heads of Government and distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen, violence in our Region is an epidemic, and like any epidemic, effective strategies to combat the spread require data and research, as well as human and financial resources to allow timely implementation of solutions to address the root causes of crime and mitigate the devastating impact of crime and violence on our societies.
For the next two days, we have an ambitious Programme of Work to help us in that regard. I do look forward to the discussions and recommendations emanating from this Summit.
I thank you.